It was Sept. 14, 2013, when a mysterious email bearing the subject line, "Is this your first cello?" arrived in Christine Walevska's inbox. The renowned cello virtuoso, who seldom uses email, let 6 months pass before she clicked on the missive sent by strangers in Chico, Calif. The note included three photographs of the instrument which Walevska immediately recognized as the rare cello she played as a child. In 2011, Dustin Breshears was a young piano teacher managing the Chico Youth orchestra. His young daughter, Starla gravitated toward the cello and so the search for a fine, antique 1/8-size cello began. Through a dealer in Los Angeles, they found the 1834 luthier Bernardel of Walevska's that had been stolen decades earlier. How the instrument arrived there remains a mystery, but Starla played the instrument until she outgrew it in 2015 and it was returned Walevska. The surprise ending? Walevska has become Starla's mentor and teacher.

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